September 29th, 2009 by Julia Lim, VP, Marketing
Always good for a laugh, Larry Ellison entertains the Churchill Club. I mean really entertains them if the belly laughs on this video are anything to go by. But the entire time I watched the video, I thought, why are they laughing so hard?
I am torn between agreeing with Larry Ellison’s disparaging comments about everyone and their sister jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon and disagreeing with him because he’s overlooking key components that make cloud computing possible and yes, new. As usual, perhaps it comes down to defining what cloud computing is and isn’t.
Certainly he’s got a point. Businesses, like Salesforce.com, that have been around for years longer than the cloud terms are now talking about what they have been doing as “cloud computing”. In fact, the entire category of SaaS is being described that way. After all, if Salesforce says it, it must be true. But perhaps there’s true cloud computing – focused around platform and business model – versus applications like Salesforce that are enabled by cloud computing. In this scenario cloud computing is about the infrastructure, architecture and technologies and not the specific uses for which that platform is built upon. Is this a no-brainer or am I just flat-out wrong?
Re-defined this way, there are fewer cloud computing providers enabling a world of cloud applications. Dreamforce or force.com is cloud computing. Salesforce.com is an application delivered on the cloud. Microsoft Azure, Amazon EC2 and AWS, and Google App Engine all fall under cloud computing. Another example is from a customer of ours – Cisco Ironport. Earlier this year, they announced the availability of their security offerings via the cloud. They’re not doing cloud computing; they’re just enabling delivery using the cloud. And where we come in is providing a solution that monitors their operations wherever they might reside, inside and outside the cloud.
The original term has splintered into different categories of cloud computing offerings – from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to Platform as a Service (PaaS) to Software as a Service (SaaS) - in order to encompass the onslaught of new solutions self-described as cloud computing. But while I can definitely see IaaS and PaaS as cloud computing, SaaS falling in that category has always bothered me. And maybe that’s at the source of what Ellison is so puffed up about.
So my final comment is, yes, there’s something “new” called cloud computing which has been enabled by the advances in technology around virtualization and dynamic infrastructure which in turn makes it a lot easier for web applications to be built, tested, delivered, sold, torn down and then built again. But if Ellison’s own cloud claims around Oracle “doing this for years” are based upon the SaaS model, I have to disagree. More interesting and more to the point will be what Oracle does with the Sun assets and technologies that touch upon the cloud. So then maybe Oracle will finally have a cloud computing play – beyond what every developer on the planet can do today, which is making their apps available to run in the cloud.